The 18th and 19th Centuries


(Neoclassicism, Romanticism and Art Styles in 19th century - Art Map)


Neoclassicism and Romanticism



see collections:

Francesco Hayez

Eugene Delacroix

see also:

"Between Two Revolutions"

(From David to Delacroix)


The Italian Masters

In comparison with other cultures, the development of Romanticism was slow in Italy, in literature as well as in painting. Its principal characteristic was the attribution of historical significance to individual events, particularly those associated with the unification of Italy. Francesco Hayez (1791-1882) did not possess the dramatic impetus.
nor perhaps the expressive truth, of French painters; for him, the pictorial fury with which Delacroix translated the immediacy of events was entirely foreign. He was, however, the most important figure in the transition from Italian Neoclassicism to Romanticism. Images became more refined in Italian painting, draughtsmanship combined with a notable solidity. The artist's illustrations often assumed the character of a symbolic-romance or, in their lyrical and sentimental handling of melodramatic events, shared an affinity with current musical performances in Italy. Have?, favoured a theatrical style, using backdrops, wings, costumes, and a balanced arrangement of the characters. The scenery was dictated by a desire for documentary accuracy, and he developed a symbolic sense of gesture in his style, which is perfectly exemplified by Melancholy.

Francesco Hayez



Eugene Delacroix
Greek Woman among the Ruins of Missolonghi

The heroism of the people who fought for their country and their faith and who maintained a link with tradition was often used as subject matter to express grand Romantic political and moral ideals.
Delacroix's Greek Woman among the Ruins of Missolonghi glorifies the inhabitants of the Greek city, which they destroyed rather than surrender to the Turks.
The Italian painter Francesco Hayez, who in 1841 was proclaimed a "national painter" by the Italian patriot Giuseppe Mazzini, portrayed the people in the role of a Greek chorus in his Refugees of Parga. His Romantic subjects never quite lost their sharp academic outline. The idea of nationhood developed during the 19th century, when "the people" became a single entity, treated as a coherent individual. The idealization of the masses would sometimes lead to stereotypical generalizations of nations or cultural groups, often bordering on the ridiculous. Romantic artists often showed the people engaged in struggles, battles, and other emotionally intense scenes: this theme was also much in evidence in the narrative prose, poetry, and opera of the time.

Francesco Hayez
Refugees of Parga



The French Masters

Eugene Delacroix used literary, exotic, historical, and also contemporary events as subjects for his paintings. When he showed the Massacre at Chios at the Paris Salon in 1824. it caused a sensation. Suddenly, art no longer had to refer to antiquity but could presume to document the age in which the artist was living. Delacroix sought "that expressive force, that energy, that audacity" that he could not find in the canons of David's ideal of eternal beauty. This "force" later emerged in Gericault's compact, solid forms based on the contrast between light and shade. The atmospheric luminosity of Delacroix's landscapes and the brilliant. fierce light of Morocco brightened his palette with stronger colours. It released him from the academic technique of chiaroscuro and enhanced the freedom of his brushwork.
The same vital energy was echoed in the vibrant, tense postures captured by the animal sculptor and painter Antoine-Louis Barye (1796-1875). This artist brought an extraordinary vigour to his violent portrayals of fights between tigers, crocodiles and other wild beasts. These paintings contrasted strongly with the monumental stillness and sublime calm of Neoclassical art, which was based on precise aesthetic principles. With the advent of Romanticism, sculpture became an almost contradictory medium as regards the ideal theories of the new aesthetic: hence, it was poorly represented as an art form at this time. Carnage (1834) by Auguste Preault (1809-79) appears as a menacing and visionary attack on violence, while Romantic individualism found expression in the celebrated medallions of Pierre-Jean David d'Angers (1788-1856). He represented the characteristics of his famous sitters (including Delacroix, Friedrich, Victor Hugo, Byron, Paganini, and Rossini) almost to the point of caricature.



The most important painter of the Romantic movement in France, Eugene Delacroix (1798-1863) began his career n Baron Guerin's workship. There, he met Theodore Gericault, who would prove to be a key influence. Among the other painters he admired was Constable. Influential in terms of subject matter were his travels in 1832 to Morocco, Algeria, and Spain. After years of battles with the Salon, he was given official approval at the Universal Exhibition of 1855.



Eugene Delacroix

(Encyclopaedia Britannica)

born April 26, 1798, Charenton-Saint-Maurice, France
died August 13, 1863, Paris

in full Ferdinand-Eugène-Victor Delacroix the greatest French Romantic painter, whose use of colour was influential in the development of both Impressionist and Post-Impressionist painting. His inspiration came chiefly from historical or contemporary events or literature, and a visit to Morocco in 1832 provided him with further exotic subjects.

Early life

Delacroix was the fourth child of Victoire Oeben, a descendant of the Oeben-Riesener family, which had createdfurniture for the French king and court in the 17th and 18th centuries, and of Charles Delacroix, a government official, who was ambassador to Holland in 1798 and who died in 1805 while prefect of Bordeaux. One theory attributes Eugène's true paternity to the statesman Charles-Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord. This belief is strengthened both by Delacroix's strong physical resemblance to Talleyrand and by the fact that the future painter would consistently receiveimportant patronage from the French government despite the nonconformist character of his art.

Whatever the truth of his parentage, Delacroix's childhood was untroubled, and he would always maintain great affection and admiration for his father. Up to age 17 he pursued classical studies. Within his distinguished and artistic family, he formed a passion for music and the theatre. In 1815 he became the pupil of a renowned academic painter, Baron Pierre-Narcisse Guérin. He knew the historical painter Antoine-Jean Gros, and as a young man he visited the salon of the royalist and painter Baron François Gérard. As early as 1822 he received the backing of Adolphe Thiers, the statesman and historian, who, as interior ministerin the 1830s, put Delacroix in charge of architectural decorations.

A child of his century, Delacroix was affected by the Romanticism of the painter Théodore Géricault and of friends such as the English painter Richard Parkes Bonington, the Polish-born composer and pianist Frédéric Chopin, and the French writer George Sand. He did not, however, take part in the battles of the Romantic movement waged by Victor Hugo, Hector Berlioz, and others.

Development of mature style

Delacroix's debut at the Paris Salon of 1822, in which he exhibited his first masterpiece, Dante and Virgil in Hell, is one of the landmarks in the development of French 19th-century Romantic painting. Dante and Virgil in Hell was inspired by Dante's Divine Comedy, but its tragic feeling and the powerful modeling of its figures are reminiscent of Michelangelo, and its rich colour shows the influence of Peter Paul Rubens. Among Delacroix's contemporaries, Géricault, who was the young painter's best friend until his sudden death in 1824, was also important.

In his subsequent choice of subjects, Delacroix showed an affinity with Lord Byron and other Romantic poets of his time, and he also drew subjects from Dante, William Shakespeare, and medieval history. In 1824, however, he exhibited at the Salon the Massacre at Chios , a large canvas depicting the dramatic contemporary massacre of Greeks by Turks on the island of Chios. The nature of his talent is evident in the unity he achieved in his expression of the haughty pride of the conquerors, the horror as well as despair of the innocent Greeks, and the splendour of a vast sky.

Delacroix had already become interested in the delicate technique of his English painter friends Richard Parkes Bonington and the Fielding brothers (Thales, Copley, Theodore, and Newton), and he also admired the English landscapes of John Constable, which were exhibited in Paris in 1824. Indeed, the luminous tonalities evident in the Massacre at Chios are said to have been inspired by Constable's style. To round out his technical and cultural education, Delacroix left for London in 1825. There his technique, developed by contact with J.M.W. Turner, Constable, and Sir Thomas Lawrence, acquired the freedom and suppleness that until then he had been admiring in Rubens and striving to achieve for himself.

Between 1827 and 1832, Delacroix produced masterpieces in quick succession. Chief among them is The Death of Sardanapalus (1827), a violent and voluptuous Byronic subject in which women, slaves, animals, jewels, and rich fabrics are combined in a sensuous but somewhat incoherent scene. One of his finest paintings on historical subjects, The Execution of the Doge Marino Faliero (1826–27), dates from this period as do two works on medieval history, The Battle of Nancy (1831) and The Battle of Poitiers (1830). He also painted the typically Byronic subject of Combat Between the Giaour and the Pasha (1827). Like Géricault, Delacroix explored the newly invented medium of lithography and made a set of 17 lithographs (1827) illustrating a French edition of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe's Faust.

In 1830 Delacroix painted Liberty Leading the People to commemorate the July Revolution that had just brought Louis-Philippe to the French throne. This large canvas mixes allegory with contemporary realism in a highly successful and monumental manner and isstill perhaps the most popular of all Delacroix's paintings. The relatively subdued manner of Liberty Leading the People also reflects a change in Delacroix's style, which became somewhat more quiet while still retaining elements of animation and grandeur.

From January to July 1832, Delacroix toured in Algeria, Spain, and Morocco with the comte de Mornay, King Louis-Philippe's diplomatic representative to the sultan. Morocco proved to be a revelation to Delacroix, who found in its people and way of life the Homeric nobility and beauty that he had never seen in French academic Neoclassicism itself. The sights of exuberant nature and the beauty of the horses, the Arabs and their flowing costumes, would henceforth inspire his visual memory, even in his last works. Delacroix made copious sketches and notes during the trip and used them to good effect upon his return to Paris. After Morocco his drawing and paint handling became freer and hisuse of colour even more sumptuous. The first fruits of his Moroccan impressions are collected in Women of Algiers in Their Apartment (1834), in which three sumptuously costumed Arab women and their surroundings are portrayed in a blaze of exquisitely warm colour harmonies. Delacroix's other recapitulations of his North African experiences include Fanatics of Tangier (1838) and Jewish Wedding (1839). He continued to paint Arab subjects almost to the end of his life.

Building decoration

In the latter part of his career, Delacroix was favoured with a string of important commissions to decorate government buildings. His first commission, in 1833–36, was to paint a group of murals for the Salon du Roi at the Palais-Bourbon. He was subsequently commissioned to decorate the ceiling of the Library of the Palais-Bourbon (1838–47), the Library of the Palais du Luxembourg (1840–47), the ceiling of the Galerie d'Apollon at the Louvre (1850), the Salon de la Paix at the Hotel de Ville (1849–53; burned in 1871), and the Chapel of the Holy Angels in the Church of Saint-Sulpice (1849–61). His murals represent the last great effort of this kind in the tradition of the Baroque ceiling painters.

During this period Delacroix also painted several canvaseson the largest scale of his career, notably two for the museum of history at Versailles: The Battle of Taillebourg (1837) and Entry of the Crusaders into Constantinople (1840). Among his later easel paintings are ones on Arab, religious, and classical subjects and several superb scenes of wild animals and hunts, among them the Lion Hunt of 1858and the Lion Hunt of 1861. Delacroix painted several notable self-portraits during the course of his long career and occasionally produced portraits of such friends as Chopin and Sand (both in 1838).

Delacroix died in 1863, leaving more than 6,000 drawings, watercolours, and prints to be sold. His Journals are among the most penetrating of artists' notebooks since those kept by Leonardo da Vinci. A selective edition of them in English by Hubert Wellington was published in 1951 as The Journal of Eugène Delacroix.

With Turner, Delacroix was the forerunner of the bold technical innovations that strongly influenced the development of Impressionism and subsequent modernist movements. The uninhibited expression of energy and movement in his works, his fascination with violence, destruction, and the more tragic aspects of life, and the sensuous virtuosity of his colouring have helped make him one of the most fascinating and complex artistic figures of the 19th century.

Rene Huyghe





Eugene Delacroix
The Abduction of Rebecca
oil on canvas; 82 x 100 cm (32 x 40 in)
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

This work, which illustrates a popular fictional dramatic scene, is signed and dated at bottom left. It belongs to the artist's fully mature period: a second version is housed in the Louvre. The subject is based on the romantic novel Ivanhoe, written by Sir Walter Scott in 1820. It recounts a tale of the wars between the Normans and Saxons at the time of Richard I (1189-99), known as Richard the Lionheart. In the foreground, Rebecca, a rich young Jewish woman, is lying across the haunch of a horse, held between two men in flamboyant costumes; one holds her by the waist, the other by the legs. Below right, in the middle ground, a knight in armour, with his cloak billowing in the wind, spurs on his mount to reach the victim. In the upper background, amid trails of smoke, stands a castle in flames.


The animated composition follows a rigorously studied plan, its balance established by two main right-angled axes. The vertical axis falls from the edge of the tower to the right hands of the horseman and the girl, then to the left leg of the abductor seen from behind. The horizontal axis is lower down, passing through the feet of the standing abductor and the rear hooves of the horse. Above this axis, the movement of the composition is arranged in a series of intersecting lines and contours.

The painting is full of energy and drama. This shines through, not only from the compositional plan, but also from the dominant line from which the form is composed. The use of curved lines accentuates the sense of continuous, dramatic movement, resiliently bounding and rebounding from one form to another. The dynamic tension of these curves binds together each element of the composition, creating a single dramatic whole.

A closer look at the juxtaposition of colours reveals the careful preliminary research and planning that characterizes Delacroix's work. The pure colours are laid on the canvas in adjacent tones that anticipate the experiments of the Impressionists. The contrast is made up of complementary warm and cold tones, for example, the red cloth and the green saddle, the blue area of the sky among the orange clouds and the brown of the horse's mane. The background has cold touches of green alternating with warm burnt ochre. The basis of the painting is the rhythmical cadence of blue-greens and brown-reds, and flashes of white tinged with flesh fortes or silver.

The vigour of the brushwork is key to the painting's powerful effect. The artist s movements are immediate and energetic, evident in the flowing brushstrokes. Light also plays an important role in the strong emotive content of the picture. In the atmosphere darkened by the smoke of the fire, the light floods on to the two "good" figures, the woman and the knight rushing to her assistance. The light makes them the two focal points of the scene, although more space is given to the abductors and the horse. Particularly successful is the dramatic way in which the artist captures every posture, gesture, and movement of both the humans and the animals.

The castle ramparts emerge from the darkened background of smoke like an apparition. The smoke spirals up in great plumes, painted with energetic brushstrokes. Although the smoke is contained in the upper third of the picture, the light it reflects invades the scene in the foreground. The orange in the clouds and the red and yellow streaks in the flames serve as indications of movement in the scene.

Eugene Delacroix
The Abduction of Rebecca





study of a woman's head for

Artists have illustrated the exploits of monarchs and generals since antiquity. Among the most celebrated examples are the high reliefs of the Arch of Constantine and Trajan's Column; the lost fresco cycle of Charlemagne's palace at Aachen, depicting the emperor's victories in Spain; and Andrea Mantegna 's historic portraits of the family of the marquesses of Mantua in the camera picta of the castle of San Giorgio ( 1471—74). Entire Italian dynasties were portrayed in vast cycles: Alessandro Farnese (who became Pope Paul III in 1534) employed Francesco Salviati  and Taddeo Zuccari, while Giorgio Vasari began the apotheosis of the House of Medici in the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence in 1556. Later, Peter Paul Rubens executed a series of paintings to glorify Henry IV and Marie de' Medicis for the Luxembourg Palace in Paris (1625). As for the Spanish, Lorenzo Tiepolo was summoned to Madrid by the monarch Charles III and paid to exalt the sovereign, the dynasty, and its victories. His Glory of Spain (1765) on the ceiling of the throne room of the Royal Palace celebrated the whole royal family. The Napoleonic occupation of Spain ended in 1814, but even before the restoration of Ferdinand VII. Goya began works commemorating events that took place during the Spanish uprising. His Third of May 1808(1814) marked a turning-point in artistic representation of war, as the tragedy of human conflict had never before been portrayed with such pitiless honesty. This approach had nothing to do with the heroism and chivalry of conventional historical painting; instead, it deals with the death of liberty, with the artist acting as spokesperson for the people. The power of his expression of horror, outrage, and violence would not find its equivalent until the 20th century with Picasso's Guernica (1937) and with portrayals of previously unimagined devastation, such as Hiroshima Cycle by Arnulf Rainer. In one of the most famous — and controversial — political paintings of the 19th century, Liberty leading the People (28 July 1830). Delacroix celebrates the Parisian uprisings of 1830. The heroine, who holds aloft the French flag, personifies a new collective hero in art: the people.


Eugene Delacroix
Liberty leading the People (28 July 1830)


Eugene Delacroix
Liberty leading the People (28 July 1830)


Taddeo Zuccari
Pietro Farnese

Piter Paul Rubems
Apotheosis of Henry IV and Proclamation of the Regency of Marie de' Medicis


Francisco Goya
Not Even These


Arnulf Rainer
Hiroshima Cycle


see collections:

Francesco Hayez

Eugene Delacroix



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